New Jersey man owes nearly $63K for skipping tolls, says Port Authority in lawsuit

george washington bridge toll booth
The toll plaza to enter the George Washington Bridge from the New Jersey side in July 2022.
AP Photo/Seth Wenig

A New Jersey man owes nearly $63,000 in fines for his relentless habit of skipping tolls by improperly using an E-Z Pass lane, the Port Authority claims in a new lawsuit.

The suit, filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Wednesday, alleges that Joseph Castoria III, of Manalapan, has racked up a whopping $14,230 bill for unpaid tolls on Port Authority bridges and tunnels between 2013 and 2018. Using three separate vehicles, Castoria purportedly used an E-Z Pass lane to cross a toll checkpoint on 975 separate occasions, successfully evading cash tolls that in 2022 cost $16 per passage.

The Port Authority says Castoria is also on the hook for over $48,000 in “administrative fees” for the agency’s unsuccessful decade of attempting to collect on the debt. Under E-Z Pass terms and conditions, the Port Authority is owed $50 in administrative fees each time someone evades its tolls; the authority’s surveillance system identifies the vehicles and license plates of rule-breakers, and the Port Authority then sends a citation to the address listed on their vehicle registration.

As such, the authority is seeking $62,980 in overall damages from the alleged scofflaw.

“The ongoing and continued uses of the Port Authority’s toll road facilities by Defendant(s)’ motor vehicles without paying the requisite tolls constitutes multiple trespasses upon the property of the Port Authority without its permission, in violation of lawful regulations,” said Port Authority lawyer Derek Soltis, an associate at the Law Offices of Peter C. Merani, in the complaint.

Castoria was sent citations for each of his 975 violations, but did not return a single one, the Port Authority alleged.

The Port Authority, a joint state entity between New York and New Jersey, controls Hudson River crossings straddling the two states, like the George Washington Bridge and the Holland and Lincoln tunnels.

Earlier this year, the agency’s Big Apple counterpart, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, estimated it would lose up to $50 million in 2022 to toll evasion on its crossings.

The Port Authority did not provide a figure for its own toll evasion losses to amNewYork Metro, and declined to comment further on the litigation. Castoria could not be reached for comment.

These days, the hot tactic for toll evasion is increasingly the use of illegal license plate covers to prevent cameras from identifying a scofflaw’s vehicle. The MTA in May announced a crackdown on covered plates in conjunction with the Port Authority, NYPD, and other entities, but the practice remains widespread. The agency also formed a “blue ribbon panel” to determine how to best combat fare and toll evasion, which is expected to release its findings before the end of the year.

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